By Dave S. Clark
The Pagani Zonda is a car that once you’ve seen, you’ll never forget. Its outrageous styling is unlike any other supercar or hypercar, whatever term you choose to describe it. It’s a handcrafted, fully carbon fibre, Mercedes-powered masterpiece that looks more like a fighter jet than anything else on the road. And all of them have been made in Pagani’s tiny factory in San Cesario Sul Panaro, not much more than a village in northern Italy. That factory happens to be a stop on the Motorstars tour, which also stops at Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati. I took the Motorstars tour in September 2011 and after a memorable morning at the Ferrari Museum, we were led to the Pagani Factory. When you first pull up, you’d never even notice it was there. The building lacks the outright showiness that the cars it produces have excess of.
Entering the building, you’re immediately greeted by Zondas. When I was there, three Zondas were on display in the showroom. The most familiar one to me was the track-prepped Zonda R. Although it looks similar to your run-of-the-mill plain Jane Zonda, it’s anything but. It’s wider, longer and has completely different suspension geometry compared to its predecessors. You might know it as the car that lapped the Nürburgring in 6:47, claiming the record for production-based cars from the Ferrari 599XX.
Beside it sat two entirely unique Zondas — the Tricolore and the Uno. The Tricolore is based off the top model Zonda Cinque, with a 7.3L AMG powerplant that puts out 670 hp and screams up from 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds. Beside it sits the Uno, which is similar in specs, but different in appearance. It was made for a member of the Qatar royal family and can be identified by its unique turquoise and black colours.
After drooling over those three machines for 20 minutes or so, you put your cameras and phones away and head into the laboratory that these beasts are created in. The “factory” consists of just a few rooms. When you walk in, you’ll see the assembly room where there will likely be several skeletal Paganis in different stages of completion. The cars I saw had no motors, just a monocoque with suspension and brakes. You’ll then be taken to a side room where workers are carefully fitting panels together and testing them for a perfect fit.
The final room houses the massive kiln where all the carbon fibre pieces, which are formed on site, are fired. All the pieces are assembled and properly fit, then the cars are taken apart, painted off site, then put back together again. During the quick tour you get an appreciation for how much care is put into each car. There are no robots or assembly lines, just workers lucky enough to be building some of the coolest cars ever.
Even if you know you’ll never own a Pagani, this little factory and showroom is definitely worth a stop if you’re in Italy. Check out our article on how to get there from the popular Italian destinations.
Photo gallery from the Pagani factory